Morning Report: What SeaWorld's Big Orca Phase-out Means for San Diego | Voice of San Diego

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Morning Report: What SeaWorld's Big Orca Phase-out Means for San Diego

Meet our new education podcast, where school police’s territory ends and SDPD’s begins and citizenship applications are up amid Trump’s divisive rhetoric.

SeaWorld will end its orca breeding program and move away from theatrical killer whale shows. The major shift in direction for the company was announced this week by SeaWorld’s CEO, Joel Manby,who said his company now sees orca captivity as an obstacle for SeaWorld’s success. “This decision today is so monumental for us,” Manby said.

SeaWorld has never been able to recover from the damage dealt to it after the documentary “Blackfish” helped consolidate resistance against its orca captivity program. Under the new strategy, SeaWorld will “retain the orcas it has for at least a couple decades and display them in a new way,” reports Lisa Halverstadt. The company has been hinting at expanding entertainment options at its parks, but is locked into offering a mostly educational experience at its San Diego park.

San Diegans have a unique interest in seeing SeaWorld’s bet pay off. Aside from their local animal rescue efforts, “the company’s lease with the city also guarantees the city gets more cash when business is good,” Halverstadt writes.

The Learning Curve: City Cops or District Cops?

The results of a school fight that happened at Lincoln High School at the end of February are continuing to resonate throughout that school’s community. It was a fight that “left one school police officer injured and introduced three students to the criminal justice system,” Mario Koran writes. On Wednesday, parents gathered on short notice at the school for a chance to hear from San Diego Unified’s own police force. We had a question, too: Why is the city police department handling the investigation into the fight, instead of the district’s police?

“The SDPD shouldn’t have jurisdiction over this case,” Koran reports. The rules for what the district handles and what it hands off to the city are pretty clear. There’s an exception, though, for “special circumstances,” which the district police chief cited in explaining why his office wasn’t leading the investigation.

A video of the incident still hasn’t been released, despite calls from the ACLU and NAACP to make the videos public, Koran reports.

School Buds in Your Earbuds

The importance of schools, what happens at schools, why things happen at schools; there’s just a ton happening in the universe of education in San Diego. That’s why we’ve launched a new podcast focused on education, hosted by our Scott Lewis and Laura Kohn, executive director of the Education Synergy Alliance. It’s called “Good Schools For All,” and we kicked of our inaugural show by starting where all education starts: with the infants. “At-risk children who don’t get high-quality early childhood experiences are 25 percent more likely to drop out of school, ” Lewis writes.

You can listen to the show directly here, but you’ll probably find it more convenient to check it out on your phone or tablet using Stitcher, iTunes or other podcast apps.

Horned Fish: San Diego Explained

Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute is trying its darndest to get a fish farm operation up and running a few miles off of Mission Bay. But the project is raising the eyebrows of several prominent critics, not the least of them being the Navy. Ry Rivard and NBC 7’s Monica Dean reeled in the facts on how the project is going in our most recent San Diego Explained.

Trump Fuels Local Citizenship Push

With all the slandering of immigrants these days, you might think the local immigrant population would be fearfully retreating to the shadows. But in the true American spirit, the divisive rhetoric of Donald Trump is actually fueling an immigrant citizen drive aimed at rushing into the political process to have their voices heard. “In Chula Vista, where more than half of the population is Hispanic, citizenship applications jumped 40 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015,” KPBS reports.

The New York Times noticed this same phenomenon in other areas as well.

Tribune Buys More Papers, DoJ Balks

It was a moment of excitement for Tribune Publishing: They had won their bid to purchase Freedom Communications, the company that publishes the Orange County Register and the Riverside Press-Enterprise. Tribune, already publisher of the San Diego Union-Tribune and Los Angeles Times, would be a newspaper powerhouse in Southern California. But then, “within hours of the announcement,” it was less exciting: The Department of Justice sued to stop the sale from taking place, saying it would violate antitrust laws meant to ensure healthy competition, reports the L.A. Times. Tribune is ready to fight for the win, and if they are successful they would buy up everything from Freedom Communications. Everything, that is, except the pension plans.

News Nibbles

It’s time to start working out the nitty-gritty of how San Diego is going to achieve its climate goals, KPBS notes. We’re off to a rough start: The all-electric vehicle-on-demand service Car2Go is replacing its electric fleet with gas-powered cars instead. (Union-Tribune)

 Going to Tijuana? Uber would like to take you there, if they can find drivers who want to do it, KPBS notes. It’s a one-way trip, though. (L.A. Times) We’ve written about Uber’s bumpy ride in Tijuana.

 Two North County development projects compared: one trying to bypass environmental laws with a ballot initiative, another happy to do it the traditional way. (KPBS)

 Contaminated Bumble Bee tuna is out there; maybe don’t eat it. (L.A. Times)

 It’s tough to get information about police officers in California, even after they’re fired. (NBC 7)

 The saga of the $2 million penny in the possession of a San Diego man has come to an end. (Union-Tribune)

 After more than five decades, the USPS will finally send mail to Cuba again. (NBC 7)

Pup Swims Home

As someone who recently became the companion of a puppy, I can only imagine how elated San Diego State student Nick Hayworth must have been when his beautiful German Shepherd, who he had presumed was lost at sea, suddenly reappeared five weeks later. The dog swam the ocean distance to San Clemente Island and took refuge on a Navy base, where she was eventually found roadside. “It appeared she’d eaten small rodents to survive,” the U-T writes.

Seth Hall is a local writer and technologist. You can email him at voice@s3th.com or follow him on Twitter: @loteck.

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